State News

Libertarians, and Republicans, question Feliciano’s bid for GOP nomination

By Tom Brown,

Libertarian candidate for governor Dan Feliciano fell 220 signatures shy of qualifying to appear on the Republican ballot. Now he is appealing to GOP voters to write him in at the polls on primary election day.

On Thursday Aug. 7, Feliciano criticized the Shumlin administration’s policies on several issues and faulted the GOP’s preferred candidate, Scott Milne, for having no policies at all. He also sought to distance himself from some of the Libertarian party’s controversial platform positions, a move which has irritated some of his supporters.

“The other announced candidate [Milne] has little or no idea where the incumbent governor has gone wrong or just what they would do to guide Vermont to a better future,” Feliciano said.

Feliciano, 51, of Essex Junction, blasted Gov. Peter Shumlin’s rollout of Vermont Health Connect and vowed to oppose any attempts to implement a single payer health care plan.

“Replace him now and give me a two-year head start in straightening out the mess his people are making,” he said. “I think we can get rid of single payer spending and open up the exchange to outside insurance vendors … open the exchange to other competitors and have them compete on the premium side.”

He also criticized Shumlin for leading the effort to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant and what he called his “desperate” efforts to keep IBM in the state.

Feliciano’s write-in campaign points to a wider schism in the state Republican Party, and perhaps within the Libertarian Party. Feliciano’s effort is championed by GOP stalwart Darcie Johnston, who directed Randy Brock’s unsuccessful campaign for governor in 2012. Johnston runs the anti-single payer group Vermonters for Health Care Freedom.

Vermont GOP chairman Dave Sunderland recently sent out a news release warning of the “extreme views” on freeing nonviolent drug offenders and other issues espoused in the Libertarian platform. “Vermont Libertarians believe in amnesty—yes, complete amnesty—for all ‘non-violent’ drug dealers,” Sunderland said.

Feliciano, who said he has always been a Libertarian and is vice chairman of the state party, however sought Thursday to distance himself from some planks of that platform.  “As a candidate for governor, I do not support all of the positions embraced in past years by Libertarians more doctrinaire than I,” Feliciano wrote. “I have every intention of campaigning through November 4, unless your party’s candidates for governor and lt. governor suddenly inhale a large dose of pro-liberty, limited government, low tax, high opportunity Libertarianism.”

Libertarian Party chairman Jeremy Ryan said Thursday that Feliciano’s decision “has kind of been a surprise to us.” Feliciano has the party’s support for now, Ryan said, but that could change if the candidate continues to move away from the platform.

“I welcome the opportunity for more choice for voters,” Milne said of Feliciano’s bid. “I believe Darcie Johnston and Dan Feliciano are doing me a favor by highlighting the common sense approach I will bring to the Governor’s office.”

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